As a scientist myself, I appreciated the commentary “The case for caution in predicting scientists’ future impact,” by Orion Penner, Alexander Petersen, Raj Pan, and Santo Fortunato (Physics Today, April 2013, page 8). In addition to their cautions about impact factor, I think the performance of academic scientists as educators also should be taken into account.

The impact of a good science educator on the future of science may be difficult to measure directly, but it is certainly of great importance. Educators will shape the future of potential young scientists, from undergraduate and graduate training all the way to postdoctoral research. The better the educator, of course, the more positive the effect on students. Some brilliant research scientists are very poor educators who can barely transfer their knowledge and skills to students, let alone attract good students in the first place.

Maybe it’s time to put more emphasis on teaching skills and potential in the evaluation of scientists.